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2014-05-03 at 19:40

Reaching for the top

By Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com
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THUNDER BAY -- Molly Carlson is building quite an impressive resume.

Top-10 placing at the senior national level? Check. Gold at the Junior Pan Ams? Check. Win a European competition? Now she can check that box off too.

The Thunder Bay diver claimed in the three-metre event in the 16-18 category at an international event in Dresden, Germany in April, marking a successful first trip across the Atlantic Ocean.

“It’s cool being able to see other competition and compete against them at their level,” she said before a training session at the Canada Games Complex on Friday.

“I never would have imagined being able to be the best in Europe or North American and South America. It’s amazing having that feeling of being able to do what I can do.”

Before that, she had competed in Mexico in a trial event for the upcoming Youth Summer Olympic Games. At that qualifying event, she placed 11th against divers from around the globe.

Thunder Bay Diving Club coach Jason Napper says those results show that she can compete with the rest of the world.

“Who she has just competed against are the kids she would be competing against if she was going to junior world championships,” Napper said.

“It’s exciting. I look forward to seeing how we go this summer...If things go her way, watch out.”

The meet serves as a tuneup for the 15-year-old Carlson, who now has her sights set on the senior national championships in Winnipeg later this month.

This will mark her third time competing against the best divers the nation has to offer in the three-metre, her favourite discipline. She placed eighth in her debut showing two years before improving to seventh last year.

Her goal is to continue her rise towards the top of the leaderboard, yet she knows it will become an increasingly difficult and daunting task.

Napper says Carlson still has some work to do and would rather focus on her scores and performance rather than placing.

In order to compete against the senior level of competition, both Carlson and Napper know she will have to expand her repertoire of dives.

That includes adding more high-risk and challenging elements to her skill set to enhance the degree of difficulty in pursuit of higher scores.

“We have to look at increasing some of her dives, which are a little low, especially competing against senior girls,” he said. “Whether or not we compete them right away, that’s yet to be determined, but we definitely have to explore them.”

She is looking specifically at mastering the front three-and-a-half tuck, a dive that is common on the Olympic stage.

Napper says the decision to move to the more difficult dives, which she has been working on in practice and can do, depends on Carlson’s level of consistency and doing the math to determine the risk and reward.

With the success she has achieved in the past year, Carlson should be on the radar of national coaches, especially if she hones in on a top-five spot.

This is where she will begin laying the groundwork towards her goal of being in competition for being on the Canadian squad at next year’s Pan Am Games in Toronto or future Olympics.

With each passing success, those dreams are becoming a little clearer.

“The way it’s all been going I think I’m on that road. If I keep working hard and training hard I think I could make it there,” she said.

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